Policing career over for K-9 officer Laika
WORTHINGTON — After serving on the Worthington Police Department for 10 years, Laika — a Worthington Police Department K-9 — was recently granted pet status and retired from the force.
There will be a “salute to service” open house in honor of Laika from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday at the Worthington Fire Hall training room.
Originally from the Netherlands, Laika was born in May 2003. Officer Randy Liepold, who has been her trusty partner since she joined the force, received her when she was a little less than a year old.
“Laika is a trained dual purpose K-9,” Liepold said. “She is a narcotics and patrol apprehension — tracking — dog.”
Liepold looked back on some of the highlights in Laika’s long career.
“Laika has accomplished so much with her time on the force,” he said. “Two thousand eleven was her best locate year. She made 11 locates that year, between locating missing children and suspects.”
Liepold also recalled some of Laika’s biggest busts over the years.
“A couple of Laika’s top finds were 100 pounds of marijuana in an R.V. as well as $27,000 hidden in a car,” he said.
While Laika has always been there to protect and serve the community, she had a close call that almost ended her career.
“About three years ago she flipped her stomach, and when that happens normally animals die from it,” Liepold explained. “We took her to the Worthington Small Animal Clinic, and after hours in surgery they saved her life. I’m so grateful to Dr. Sara Hooge, Dr. Steve Dudley and staff for saving her.”
After her busy career, the Belgian Malinois can now look forward to retired life with Liepold and his family on their farm.
“When I first got her she hated to swim, but we’ve slowly been working with her on it and now she just loves it,” Liepold said. “So I think she can enjoy a lot more of that during retirement.”
While Laika will be leaving the force, the Worthington Police Department will be expecting a new K-9 in March or April.
Officer Mark Riley of the Worthington Police Department will be gaining a new pup. Liepold offered a word of advice about receiving the new K-9.
“When I first got Laika I was told, ‘You get the dog you deserve,”‘ he said. “The more time and training you put into your dog, the better they will be.”
During Monday night’s city council meeting, a resolution authorizing transfer to pet status for Laika was approved to make her officially off-duty.
“I just wanted to thank the community for their support,” Liepold said. This community has backed us up every time, and you don’t find that in every community.”
Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.